Marijuana Decriminalization in Chicago

Chicago to Decriminalize Marijuana

The Chicago City Council passed — by a vote of 43 to 2 — an ordinance today that will decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. People caught with less than half an ounce of marijuana may now be given a ticket rather than be arrested. The fine will be $250 at first, and more for subsequent tickets. People caught smoking on school grounds or in public will still be arrested, as will those without an ID or under age 17.

This is a positive move. Although, as Ethan says:

But the devil is very much in the details as to whether the new ordinance will ultimately do more good than harm. The fine of $250, and possibly more, is excessive — and may result in undue hardship for young and poor people without the resources to pay. Police will retain the legal authority to arrest rather than ticket people for marijuana possession, thereby allowing for the perpetuation of racial bias in enforcing the state’s marijuana laws. More people may be stopped and charged with marijuana possession offenses than before. And the mayor and police chief’s insistence that their proposal “is not decriminalization” is less than reassuring.

Remember that NYC is also decriminalized for possession of small amounts not in public view…

I think the one positive thing in all of this is that the Mayor and the City Council felt that they could enact a provision that would at least seem to lessen the penalties for marijuana without fear of political fallout. That bodes well for the future.

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29 Responses to Marijuana Decriminalization in Chicago

  1. Duncan20903 says:


    Here’s yet another politician that has included decriminalization in his campaign platform:

    Donovan backs decriminalizing marijuana, Sorrell hesitant
    T.J. Donovan, candidate for attorney general, came out Wednesday with a plate of ‘second chance’ proposals, some of which incumbent Bill Sorrell agrees with, some he doesn’t.
    Jun 27, 2012

  2. Dante says:

    This may appear to be progress, but leaving the decision of whether or not to arrest in the hands of the police exposes the whole thing as a fraud.

    When police are FORCED to not arrest people who have small amounts of pot, then that will be progress. Until then it is all a political trick just in time for somebody’s re-election campaign.

    If the police are allowed to continue arresting for pot, what has changed? Who has benefitted from this? Who does this help?

    • darkcycle says:

      White, middle class people. Dante, you’re right. This is cosmetic and still allows the institutional racism of the drug laws to continue. I don’t think it’s hard to figure out who will be “ticketed” and who will be “arrested” in Chicago. It’s almost as if he looked to the New York law for inspiration. (Wait. It’s Rahm Emanuel. Clearly he looked to New York for inspiration. Nine fingered POS)

  3. kaptinemo says:

    Decrim is still a sword hanging over your head. It is still a unwarranted power of The State with the ability to make your life miserable on the whims of its’ agents.

    It’s long past time we refuse to accept their terms. They want to keep us on a chain with their decrim? Break that chain and demand (re)legalization.

    If they’re scared enough to tremulously, hopefully offer us a decrim olive branch, thinking we don’t see the trap behind it, up the ante, and tell them we want that sword removed from above our heads, completely. We want the whole enchilada, and won’t ‘settle’ for their half-@$$ed ‘decrm’ anymore.

  4. Duncan20903 says:

    Potheads are experts in finding the cloud surrounding the silver lining. It just isn’t going to happen overnight my friends.

    • darkcycle says:

      We know Duncan, but this is an insult. It’s a cheap ploy, and it pays to be right up front crying “FOUL”. All these Guys in the Obama cohort are all deceitful scum, and I bet they try this shit, or something like it nationally before the election. Don’t worry, it won’t be legalization, you’re right. It will be carefully crafted to change only the words of the law, not the status quo. Better to let them know now that it won’t work, don’t ya think?

    • nick says:

      I don’t mean to pick at you but what purpose does calling drug users “potheads”, “junkys”, etc, serve? All it does is reinforce stereotypes and keep the hate and disrespect alive.

      • Duncan20903 says:


        I say that it reclaims and diffuses the word. It was ours before they stole it you know.

        A word is just a sound with a mutually agreed upon meaning. I simply and absolutely disagree with and reject the assertion that the word pothead is a pejorative.

        It’s the intent that makes a dirty word a dirty word. You know how so many have started a vendetta against the word marijuana and think that cannabis is an innocent word? They’ve obviously not aware of any of the work product on the issue in the British media because man can they make the word cannabis sound like a synonym for kiddie diddler.

        I don’t let the other drivers on the highway drive my car so I’m certainly not going to let the prohibitionists dictate my vocabulary.

      • darkcycle says:

        Yes, “Marijuana Aficionado” sounds so much better. Use it twice and they’ll turn IT into a pothead joke, too. We use “Cannabist” and Cannabisti” here, but I’m afraid they haven’t caught on, outside of the immediate environment of Pete’s couch.
        Face it, we don’t control the rhetoric (yet). We’re stuck with those words. But I’ll tell you one thing, brother, they have one meaning when used in, say, Jon Stewart’s routine, and qiute another connotation when spoken in the offices of the ONDCP, NIDA and the White House right now. A “pothead” is their worst nightmare now. I say we run with it.

        • allan says:

          Face it, we don’t control the rhetoric (yet).

          Well… as one here said once (maybe twice) moving the drug war is like steering an aircraft carrier – it neither stops on a dime nor does it turn sharply. But we have certainly moved the rhetoric of the discussion. Just the use of the word “Prohibition” as a synonym for drug war was the result of our pushing on that carrier like mighty little tugboats… the phrase war on (some) drugs is fairly common (my first published use was 2005 – ). Of course I’ll grant you that some words we frequently use (asshat, asshole, dipshit, etc etc) as labels for Prohibitionists existed long before either we or the drug war did, but still… we may not “control the rhetoric” but damn if we haven’t successfully nudged it along. heck, 15 or 20 years ago, the term war on drugs was itself a rarity.

          And while the debate will rage (prolly forever) betwixt us over using the word cannabis or marijuana, again, because of our repetitious use of “cannabis” it is seen/heard far more often today in the media than it was just a decade or more ago.

          It’s kinda like “the wall” that those bricks keep falling from… we haven’t pushed it over but I’ll be darned if’n it hasn’t suffered some sreious structural weakening from the repeated blows of a thousand hammers swung a thousand times agin it.

          So… swing away lads and lasses, this wall too shall fall!

        • darkcycle says:

          My point is, that as soon as we are a generally recognized “oppressed group” or “accepted minority” as you prefer, we WILL control the rhetoric. If we deem a term to be derogatory, we will have a megaphone in the press and a lever with public opinion we do not currently enjoy. Witness the taboo on the “n” word, the term “fag” or the complete loss of the term “Broad” to describe members of the fairer sex. In any case, there was that “(yet)” parenthetically included to indicate that I do believe we WILL control the rhetoric by the time this is over. And that could be soon(ish).

        • allan says:

          oh, I knew your point… sometimes I just havta give a cheer for the home team! And give a poke now and again, just to make sure folks are still awake. I have noticed some folks nodding off on the couch. Of course that could just be CJ and friends… (and I speak from experience)(not w/ CJ but with heroeen)

          And we don’t use “broad” anymore? Damn… it was sooo ’50s, I can hear it plain as day, in a Robert Mitchum (old actor for you sprouts) voice. I know a young lady of 51, who recently referred to herself as an “old broad.” Does that count?

        • nick says:

          Yeah, I suppose i’m overly sensitive to being called a pothead or a junky, even though that is behind me.

  5. nick says:

    Great, now they can only rob you and make you pay them for the pleasure. What progress!

    • thelbert says:

      no honest man gives up his liberty before death males it difficult to exercise. honest men do not let criminals dictate their actions or morality. our government has crossed the boundaries of legitimacy into criminal territory.

  6. Duncan20903 says:


    So the argument is that guaranteed jail time every time is better than the possibility. I think that position is laughably absurd. It’s letting perfection become the enemy of progress. Re-legalization isn’t going to happen in a single, quantum leap. IMHO it’s an act of idiocy to complain about and rail against progress because it doesn’t go far enough. This is the proverbial first third or fourth step on a journey of a thousand miles. The wet blankets can wait for the Star Trek transporter. I’ll be at the destination before you will.

    Bunch of crybabies indeed. Say Nick, is it PC for me to call you a cry baby? Wah! Wahh!! Wahhh!!! They didn’t do it the way I thought they should!!!! Wahhhhh!!!!!

    • darkcycle says:

      I hear you Duncan. But the trick is in how this will be implemented. This is worse than no change and I’ll bet you cash money right now it won’t affect arrest statistics in Chicago. We’ll have to wait and see, but this is too much like New York for comfort. JMHO

    • nick says:

      Duncan – Complacency is the enemy of progress and you clearly seem to be happy to eat what tiny scraps they feed you off the table.

      Your hostility towards me for being fed up against baby steps and political maneuvering is uncalled for and childish. If being angry over the stupidity of the war on drugs is being a cry baby, then I’m happy to be a cry baby.

      • Windy says:

        I agree with you, Nick. I’m 68, I’ve been waiting for common sense and the drive for individual freedom to re-emerge since 1968. I’m damn tired of talking, and writing in the attempt to make the willfully blind see, and I am damn sick and tired of the damn waiting for real movement in the right direction. It is so simple and yet so many do not get it (or do not want to get it). This union was founded on the idea that every single individual owned his/her own body and had the natural right to eat, smoke, drink, or otherwise ingest, any substance one desired, including known poisons (among other individual freedoms). What the hell is so hard to understand about that fact?

        • nick says:

          Yes, I know exactly how you feel. I am only 26 but the drug war has hit home hard against a few members of my family who have died due complications of the war. I also ran into trouble at the age of 18-19 and it has been very hard to progress past the “you’re a criminal” label 7 years later, even though I have nothing in commmon with my 19 year old self. I’m glad to see others are as fed up as I am.

  7. Jose says:

    In Texas, leo’s have the option to ticket for misdemeanor possession. Of course no one is ticketed, it is straight to jail. As our local sheriff recently stated to a local news paper regarding the ticket option “Well that just makes an easy arrest complicated!”.

    Giving leo the option to ticket is laughable. C’mon, a ticket or the mouth watering opportunity to exercise their arrogant machismo superiority complex to destroy someones well being over a pinner. Police will invariably side with an exertion of power as opposed to any possible form of leniency or measurable compassion for that matter.

  8. claygooding says:

    The problem with decrim is that it does not address removing the green market,,and the green market will have to be removed in order to reduce the violence that Chicago and all big cities are seeing over the market,,,so decrim may open up even more customers with more demand,,and more violence as the demand grows,,allowing prohibs to claim decrim is an example of exactly what would happen with legalization,,we know that it wouldn’t but it is just more propaganda fodder for them.

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  10. FlyingTooLow says:

    I spent 5 years in Federal Prison for a marijuana offense. While there, I watched armed bank robbers come and go in as little as 20 months.

    When I went to the parole board after more than 3 years ‘behind the wall,’ I pointed this out to the panel members. Their response: “You must understand that yours was a very serious offense.”

    I laughed about that for another 2 years(as I still sat in prison)…then wrote my book: Shoulda Robbed a Bank.

    No, it is not a treatise on varying sentences, but a humorous look at what the ‘marijuana culture’ is really about.

    That’s my contribution to helping point out just how ludicrous our pot laws truly are.

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